In March 2020, the UK announced lockdown measures to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The resulting changes to our lives, both personally and professionally, have been - dare we say it - unprecedented (yes, we know this word is tiresome!).
It’s safe to say that one of the most adversely affected groups has been freelancers - according to the Creative Industries Federation, 42% of those surveyed have found their work decrease by 100%. But what exactly has changed for those who are working for themselves, and how will this impact the landscape of freelance work?
Most freelancers have found that their portfolio of work is changing, some for the better and some not so much. As businesses find themselves having to operate with reduced income and partial closures, they no longer have the available funds to pay freelancers and, in many cases, have had to reduce their use of freelancers indefinitely. This means that those previous repeat clients are no longer providing the constant flow of freelance work, and in some cases no work at all.
However, in some industries, freelancers are seeing the same and if not more work - which is great to hear! Owe Carter, Freelance Copywriter at Owe My Word, told us his workload has remained pretty constant:
“I've found my workload has remained steady - or at least as steady as freelance work seems to get! I think I'm lucky to work in the digital space, which continues to thrive in spite of lockdown.”
Freelance web designer, Will Howe, also commented:
“The sudden shock of regular event and service industry clients forced into dormancy was thankfully soon eclipsed by affected clients (old & new) pivoting their businesses into new ventures, fresh marketing opportunities and even building communities rather than driving sales. The lockdown has not only shown me the tenacity and versatility of small businesses, but also reminded me how fortunate I am to be in a sector that’s still in demand through this crisis.”
Businesses that offer online or digital services - like Mazuma - are able to continue providing their services. This means that freelancers working with these companies are likely to continue receiving work, just like Owe.
Offline companies have also been innovative in moving their businesses online wherever they can - checkout our #lockdownlevelup heroes blog to see how some of the small businesses we work with have adapted their businesses. For freelancers, these new online businesses mean new opportunities arising in certain industries.
On the flip side, we know that some businesses have been unable to adapt and have been forced to put their services on hold - for example, businesses in the food industry that have been unable to offer a delivery or takeaway service. So, where new opportunities might be arising for freelancers, there are also opportunities that have been taken away by the current climate.
Existing companies are also using this time to work on online projects from improving their current websites to creating more online content and growing their social media following, meaning that the use of freelance web designers and developers, copywriters, and marketing professionals might find themselves facing more opportunities than before COVID-19.
If you’ve found that your income has been impacted by the current work climate, what can you do? Is there any help available?
Well thankfully, the government has put systems in place to help support all those who find themselves with a loss of income during the pandemic. For those who are self-employed this comes in the form of the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (or SEISS for short, because that’s a mouthful). This support scheme is a grant, meaning you don’t have to pay it back. It allows self-employed workers (like freelancers) to claim 80% of their average monthly profits to help them weather the storm.
The SEISS grant has been a lifeline for many but currently the government hasn't announced any further financial help for the self-employed. At Mazuma, we’re staying on top of the latest news from the government which we update on our blog - Help for Small Businesses during the Coronavirus Covid-19 Outbreak - and you can keep an eye on our social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) for easy to understand breakdowns of any future support that is provided from the government.
You can also read our blog about the SEISS scheme for all the ins and outs, including how to find out if you’re eligible, how to apply for the grant and how long it will take to get that all important payment into your bank account.
To put it simply, we don’t know what the future holds for freelancers, and the ongoing situation will be different for those working in different industries. But what we do know is that self employed folk are accustomed to adapting and making it work however they can. They’re a scrappy bunch and we admire them for it!
So keep doing what you’re doing - this won’t last forever, and you’ll come out the other side having learnt a lot about yourself and your business.
If you’re fortunate enough to be getting more work during this time or are looking for a cheap accountancy service, then why not join the Mazuma gang? Get in touch with us for more information on our great value monthly accountancy service or to receive a free quote.
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